Malusi Gigaba. Picture: ESA ALEXANDER
Malusi Gigaba. Picture: ESA ALEXANDER

Why does home affairs minister Malusi Gigaba insist on remaining blind to the huge economic potential of tourism?

Unlike mining, tourism is not a wasting asset. Indeed, it should be mushrooming. No other country in the world can offer the Kruger National Park and the big five; wine routes and the Garden Route; the Karoo semi-desert and Namaqualand; the Drakensberg and Table Mountain; and some of the best beaches and golf courses in the world.

We have a weak currency that makes it cheaper for visitors to stay here in lodges and hotels than to remain at home.

President Cyril Ramaphosa clearly gets it. In his state of the nation address in February, he spoke of "incredible opportunities" in tourism and has made similar comments since.

Yet Gigaba responded by doing little more than tinkering with the ridiculous visa requirements that have done so much damage. Is he too proud to admit error? Or just trying to show that Ramaphosa can’t tell him what to do?

It is no use talking about new priorities but doing the same old things. When Mauritius discovered that foreign businesspeople and investors were battling its bureaucracy to get visas, the president simply scrapped visas virtually overnight for most visitors. Why are we not making it as easy as possible to visit SA?